It’s the first traffic accident of its kind: a self-driving car mows down an autonomous robot.
The hit-and-run incident happened recently at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. CCTV footage shows model v4 robot, called Promobot, making its way to a display both on Monday when a Tesla Model S passes by and runs it over.
The Russian company behind Promobot later called out Elon Musk over the alleged robocide.
Look @elonmusk at a Tesla Model S hitting and killing a guiltless robot in Vegas. Your car was under a full self-driving mode. @bheater, @jjvincent, @ingridlunden, @andyjayhawk Check this out!https://t.co/0q605Fdknb
— promobot (@promobot) January 7, 2019
According to spokesperson Oleg Kivokurtsev, the damage to Promobot is beyond repair.
“Of course we are vexed. We brought this robot here from Philadelphia to participate at CES,” he said. “Now it neither cannot [sic] participate in the event not [sic] to be recovered. We will conduct an internal investigation and find out why the robot went to the roadway.”
But here’s a plot twist: Some are saying that this was all a setup!
Several media outlets claim that this is just another PR stunt for Promobot. Fred Lambert from Electrek wrote:
“Look at that video. It conveniently starts with the crash and doesn’t show how the robot got there, which the video angle would have been able to capture.”
Having driven using EAP, I'm having a hard time envisioning the Tesla not responding immediately to the obstacle in the road. Model 3 I drove to #CES2019 wouldn't let me get too close by maybe half a car length to any other vehicle on the road. Perhaps driver error? It got notice
— Michelle Maltais (@mmaltaisLA) January 7, 2019
I don't want to go on about this, but I think Promobot might actually be a front for a viral content agency. Here's another video on its channel of an "escaped" robot holding up traffic pic.twitter.com/wPmE5zFhxz
— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) January 7, 2019
Three years ago, the same robot ran into traffic, seemingly running away from its human captors. Many, however, became suspicious after noticing it was blaring out promotional messages during the chase.
What do you think? Is this a case of robocide or a sneaky ploy by the Russians?